Belarus supports doping, says Adams' coach

SIMON PLUMB IN BIEL, SWITZERLAND
Last updated 05:00 16/08/2012
Valerie Adams
LAWRENCE SMITH/Fairfax NZ

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Belarus is a country that actively helps its athletes to get around anti-doping rules, Valerie Adams' coach says.

Jean-Pierre Egger, a Swiss-based veteran of four decades of top level field athletics involvement, said he had long harboured suspicions about the now disgraced Nadzeya Ostapchuk.

Egger made it clear he places no stock in various claims from Ostapchuk and government and Olympic federation officials in Belarus that she was the victim of either a setup, mistaken tests or bias against the small eastern European country.

"I think some countries help their athletes to dope," he said as he reflected on what Adams describes as "a wild rollercoaster ride" since the shot put final through to learning that Ostapchuk had tested positive for steroid use.

"I am sure this is the situation. Nobody will say [it] to you. But some countries are not clean. Not only the athlete, but countries. Sportspeople must learn to be clean."

Asked if he believed Belarus was one of those countries, he said: "Yes".

Immediately after Ostapchuk reeled off a series of throws over the 21-metre mark in the Olympic final to secure gold, Egger was asked to comment on her performance. He paused for some time before saying he wanted "to keep silent on this performance".

Egger, who competed and coached during the steroid-fuelled era when the East Germans dominated Olympic field events, described himself as an "old fox" who knew when people were cheating.

He said that when Ostapchuk disappeared from major competition at the end of May and then reappeared in mid-July throwing 2m more in distance and consistently over 21m, he instinctively knew what was happening.

"When the other girls come to the competitions but she stays at home, I understand exactly what is happening, you know. I am an old fox and all these old pictures from many years ago come back."

Egger urged the IOC to come down harder on errant countries.

"We must be harder with countries who don't control [drugs]," he said.

He was confident New Zealand was a clean sporting nation, saying its athletes had an international reputation for "fair play".

"Val was tested three times in the same week in February when I was there - three times in the same week!" Egger said. 

He revealed she was also regularly tested while at her Swiss training base.

"They come at 6.30am with a knock to the room, [wanting] blood and urine.  I say we have no problem with that.  They can come every day, every minute."

Asked how he felt seeing Adams on the podium receiving a silver medal while he suspected Ostapchuk of doping, Egger said: "It was a catastrophe".

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